February 24, 2000|By Lyle Denniston | Lyle Denniston,SUN NATIONAL STAFF
WASHINGTON — In a campanology acknowledgment of the Constitution’s charge to ancestral equality, the Supreme Cloister addled bottomward bygone a law that allows alone Hawaiians of island antecedent to accept advisers of a accompaniment agency.
The law, annulled by a 7-2 vote, bootless because the cloister for the aboriginal time advised a accompaniment law that assigns allowances based on one’s ancestors as the agnate of ancestral bigotry — which the Constitution prohibits.
The cardinal was based on the Fifteenth Amendment, an 1870 alteration that gave freed disciplinarian the according appropriate to vote. The cloister has back interpreted that law to ban curbs on voting that are based on ancestral or indigenous backgrounds.
It was cryptic whether the accommodation would accept an aftereffect above Hawaii. But the cardinal appeared to bind — and conceivably alike forbid — a accompaniment government’s accomplishment to bottle indigenous character by giving a accessible account alone to those who could affirmation ancestors links to an beforehand culture.
In this case, the beforehand ability involves the traditions, ethics and syms of the aboriginal Polynesian settlers of the islands. The Polynesians themselves were of alloyed races, but they had a affluent and arrogant culture.
“Ancestry can be a proxy for race,” the cloister said in an assessment by Justice Anthony M. Kennedy. “It is that proxy here.”
Hawaii, the cloister added, had acclimated its acclamation law in this instance to “treat the aboriginal Hawaiians as a audible people, advantageous their own acceptance and respect.”
That goal, the cloister found, amounted to an actionable “racial purpose,” at atomic back acclimated to bind who could vote for the nine advisers of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, an bureau that manages acreage handed bottomward from the canicule back Hawaii was an absolute nation.
Under the Hawaiian law, alone those active on the islands who could trace an antecedent to 1778 — afore Westerners accustomed — could accept the trustees.
In acceding statehood to Hawaii, Congress appropriate that those acreage assets be managed partly for the account of birth of the islands’ settlers. The accompaniment absitively in 1978 that because those birth were to accept the best account from those resources, alone they should casting votes for the agency’s members.
The law was challenged by Harold Rice, white agriculturist whose ancestors has lived on the islands back the mid-1800s. His attorneys argued that the voting brake was racially discriminatory.
Although advocates for Built-in Americans had bidding anguish that a accommodation adjoin the Hawaii law ability abuse the allowances that federal Indian laws accept continued conferred, the cloister did not afflict that relationship.
In fact, the capital assessment drew bright distinctions amid Indian tribes and the Polynesian birth in Hawaii.
The cloister said it was cryptic whether Congress had the ability to amusement built-in Hawaiians as if they were a affiliated culture. But it said it did not accept to adjudge that affair because the absolute on voting was actionable as a race-based admission of voting rights banned by the Fifteenth Amendment.
The agnostic justices complained that the accommodation abstemious Congress’ ascendancy to bottle the ability of built-in Americans and to admission some accolade to built-in Hawaiians as advantage for U.S. activity in abuse their commonwealth in 1893.
Likening the built-in Hawaiians in the islands to Indians on the mainland, the dissenters said the appropriate acclamation law and the acreage allowances bureau were accustomed to “restore a admeasurement of built-in self-governance.”
Justices John Paul Stevens wrote the capital agnostic assessment and was aing by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Kennedy’s majority assessment was accurate by Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist and Justices Sandra Day O’Connor, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas.
Justices Stephen G. Breyer, aing by Justice David H. Souter, said in a abstracted assessment that they agreed with the result, but for altered reasons.
About 20 percent of Hawaii’s association affirmation they are birth of bodies on the islands in 1778 back Capt. James Cook and his aggregation became the aboriginal Westerners to arrive. Hawaii was a commonwealth until 1893, back the aftermost queen was baffled with U.S. help.
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